City engineers think if they can secure a $150,000 grant that they can address safety concerns about paths between Kansas University and downtown.
Engineers in the city’s Public Works Department have unveiled a proposal to install a new sidewalk and street lights between the area near South Park in downtown and the 12th and Louisiana area on the KU campus.
“If we could get the grant, I would anticipate construction could be in the summer of 2010,” said Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant public works director.
The project has a decent chance of winning the grant money. The grant would come from the city’s share of the federal Community Development Block Grant program. The city automatically receives an allocation of CDBG money each year from the federal government, with the next round of funding expected to be about $800,000. A city committee then accepts grant applications from across the community, and ultimately city commissioners decide which projects should be funded.
The area between KU and downtown through the Oread neighborhood has been the subject of safety concerns after several students have been robbed or attacked over the last year.
Thiel thinks it will take about $350,000 to build a new sidewalk and install lighting in the area. He said preliminary talks have led the city to believe that KU may contribute about $150,000 to the project.
What hasn’t been determined is an exact route for the new lighted corridor. Thiel said his department is studying an option that would take a new sidewalk up 12th Street from Vermont Street to Louisiana Street. Another option had been to build a new sidewalk on Louisiana Street between 11th and 12th streets, and then along 11th Street to Kentucky Street.
But Thiel said there may be problems building the sidewalk and lighting along that path in a way that would fit in with the historic character of the area, and students may not use that path as much as a direct route along 12th Street.
The city will be accepting grant applications through Dec. 1 for other projects that want to use CDBG money, said Margene Swarts, assistant director of the city’s development services division. City commissioners likely will be presented in May with recommendations on which projects to fund, she said.
The city’s Public Works Department also plans to submit at least two more projects to be considered for CDBG funding, Thiel said. They are:
• A new sidewalk program that would spend $100,000 to repair sidewalks for low-income homeowners who can’t afford to do so. State law makes it the responsibility of homeowners to maintain public sidewalks that run along their property. But several sidewalks have gone unrepaired in Lawrence because homeowners have said they don’t have the financial means to make the repairs, Thiel said.
The new program would allow the city to make the repairs for the homeowners, if they meet certain financial guidelines. As currently proposed, homeowners would need to be at or below 80 percent of median family income for the area, which currently would mean a family of four would need to earn less than $54,800.
• A project to repave East 13th Street from Connecticut Street to Haskell Avenue. The project also would include curb repair and replacement of the sidewalk. The department plans to seek $150,000 in CDBG funding for the project.
City commissioners are scheduled to receive a memo on the projects at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.